Elite Eight Picks and Tips: Ohio State Buckeyes vs Syracuse Orange
Saturday, March 24, 2012
by Mike Stewart
Top-seeded Syracuse Orange defeated No. 4 seed Wisconsin 64-63 on Thursday and earned its first NCAA tournament victory against a Big Ten opponent in seven tries. Now, the Orange will play another Big Ten opponent, No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes, with a trip to the Final Four at stake.
The Buckeyes, who advanced to the regional final with an 81-66 victory over 6-seed Cincinnati, have made just one Final Four in Thad Matta’s eight seasons, back in 2007. That year, they lost to Florida in the national championship game.
Syracuse Orange (34-2): Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone struggled against the Badgers, who converted 14-of-27 3-point attempts — including six straight late in the second half. Ohio State figures to be a more difficult defensive assignment, as the Buckeyes have capable inside scorers and a handful of players who can knock down outside shots. Syracuse, which is without sophomore center Fab Melo after the NCAA declared him ineligible last week, will have its depth tested, particularly on the front line. Forwards Rakeem Christmas and James Southerland will be asked to play productive minutes, and the Orange could use a big effort from C.J. Fair, who played 37 minutes against the Badgers and scored 15 points.
Ohio State Buckeyes (30-7): Against Cincinnati, the Buckeyes turned in a performance that has become oh-so-familiar over the last several months, ever since they dropped their first game against Kansas in early December. Ohio State started strong, taking a 37-25 halftime lead, and then fell asleep as the Bearcats surged into a four-point lead midway through the second half. Eventually, the Buckeyes’ overwhelming talent won out, but they can’t afford to play prolonged inconsistent stretches against the Orange, one of the more complete teams in the field. Jared Sullinger has 53 points and 26 rebounds in three tournament games for the Buckeyes, who have won each game by seven or more and by a combined 41 points.
1. Syracuse is 5-0 against top 25 opponents, while the Buckeyes are just 7-6 against ranked teams.
2. Ohio State won the most recent meeting 79-65 on a neutral court in 2007.
3. If the Orange win, it will mark the fourth straight year that a Big East team advanced to the Final Four.
NCAA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Ohio State 70, Syracuse 66.
- Elite 8 Predictions: Ohio State Buckeyes vs Syracuse Orange
- Sweet Sixteen Odds: Wisconsin Badgers vs Syracuse Orange
- Syracuse Orange Odds to Win the 2012 NCAA Basketball Tournament
- 2012 Elite Eight Vegas Odds: Ohio State Favored vs. Syracuse
- Sweet Sixteen Predictions: Wisconsin Badgers vs Syracuse Orange